Interview with Zar Mashal | Code for Pakistan

Interview with Zar Mashal

Interview with Zar Mashal

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

A: I completed my undergraduate degree in Computer Science from UET Peshawar and have been working as a graphic designer since 2017. I am also enrolled in a Master’s degree in energy management and sustainability at the US Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Energy, UET Peshawar.

Working and studying for a graduate degree at the same time has forced me to get better at managing my time and becoming more organized. Apart from work and studying, I enjoy sports and gaming.

I like starting my day by reading the Harvard Business Review, to know where we stand in the world and what we need to do to overcome our shortcomings.


Q: Tell me why you chose graphic design as your profession?

A: I find it interesting, and I get to learn different and new things on a daily basis.


Q: What are your qualifications in your area of expertise?

A: I am a computer science graduate and have been working as a graphic designer using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator since 2017. I have also been working on Figma during the Fellowship and I am confident that I will master it by the time I graduate from the Fellowship program.


Q: What do you like most about graphics design? What do you like least, and what do you find the most challenging?

A: The most interesting thing about graphic design is that it’s limitless. However, many people consider it as an easy job, which is frustrating for me. The most challenging thing about it is keeping up with growing competition and uncertainty about job security.


Q: What qualities and skills do you think a successful graphic designer should have? 

A: I think a good designer should be able to manage time, be passionate, motivated, be able to observe and think about things differently and come up with multiple possible solutions for a single problem. They should also be patient and willing to learn.


Q: Which of these qualities and skills you named do you have?

A: I’m organised, always willing to learn more, I’m passionate about overcoming the problems at hand and I’m learning to be patient.


Q: How do you think your previous managers/coworkers would describe working with you?

A: I find questions about myself difficult to answer so I ask around to get answers. For this question, I asked one of my coworkers and my boss to answer it for me and my boss, in particular, said that they can always rely on me as I am committed to getting things done, that I even go the extra mile to learn new things in order to complete the tasks at hand. A colleague of mine said, “I must say I feel very comfortable working with [Zar Mashal]. [She is] an organized person who can work very well under different circumstances. [She] always encourages everyone and focuses on highlighting the best on others.”


Q: How did you find out about the KP Government Innovation Fellowship Program?

A: I came to know about the Fellowship from one of my university seniors, Ebtihaj (Ebtihaj is the former KP Fellowing Manager). We met at an expo last year where he suggested I apply for the Fellowship program. 


Q: What project are you working on here? How is it helping you to build your professional capacity?

A: I have been assigned to two teams, one is the Fellowship Support team, and the other is the Livestock and Dairy Research Department. Each team has different members and ways of working, and it is interesting to figure out how to work with each one accordingly.


Q: What role are other Fellows/mentors playing in guiding you?

A: I would say the mentors have always appreciated me and my work. This has been encouraging and motivates me to do my best.


Q: How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?

A: I believe in doing the work and not letting pressure or stress sink in.


Q: Imagine that six months have passed and we are celebrating the end of the Fellowship Program. What did we achieve together?’

A: I would say we would be successful with the projects we worked on and that we would be confident and proud of our achievements together.


Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

A: I like spending time with family, a few close friends, reading, watching documentaries, listening to podcasts (TED talks), and watching movies and TV shows. 


Q: If you could have dinner with any two people from history, who would you choose and why?

A: I would choose Socrates, to ask him about his philosophy of life now. Also, Galileo Galilei, to learn about his view on quantum physics.


Q: What is your favourite quote?

A: “When you are backed against the wall, break the goddamn thing down.”


Q: Would you like to say something to our readers?

A: I would say please keep learning, your life becomes meaningless the day you stop learning. It’s evident from one of the quotes by Socrates, “True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”


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